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  • Chef Eric

Kitchen Talk - Guide to Building the Perfect Salad

Spring is finally here, at least on the calendar. With the added daylight, we are starting to look forward to warmer days and sunny afternoons outside. It also seems to be a time when everyone wants to eat a little healthier, swapping fresh, bright salads for warm comfort food.

If you’re thinking about incorporating vegetables and salads back in your life this month we can help you out. There is more to salad than just lettuce. Let us help you make salads you look forward to eating.

Start with the greens.

There are a lot of great options for greens and the more color your greens have, the healthier it is for you.

  • Green leaf lettuce – large full leaves, great for holding on to dressing. Leaf lettuce has a mild flavor and so is very easy to use in any salad. The sturdy but pliable leaves make great lettuce wraps.

  • Iceberg – iceberg adds some nice crunch to salads.

  • Romaine – big crunchy leaves, this is more often used for Caesar salad as it stands up to thick, creamy dressings. With a mild flavor, this is also very versatile for summer salads and is excellent option for a grilled salad.

  • Spinach – A dark green leafy option, spinach can go in almost anything you want to add healthy benefits to, from soups and smoothies to salads and dips.

  • Cabbages and coleslaw mixes – the mix of cabbages and carrot in a coleslaw mix are great for adding to, or using as the base, of your salad. The mx is great for heavier dressings as it doesn’t get soggy.

Other mixed greens, leaf lettuce, butter lettuce, kale, arugula, and micro-greens are great options, but be sure to taste the greens first as some have stronger flavors that can overpower your salad.

Add a mix of produce for color, flavor, AND health benefits.

The more color you add to your salad the better it will be for you. Add at least 2-3 fruit or veggies to pack in the flavor and nutrients.

Add what you like! Some great combinations we like are:

  • A mix of fresh strawberries, blueberries or raspberries

  • Broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots, chopped small or grated

  • Tomatoes, cucumber and fresh sweet peppers

  • Avocado, tomato and snap peas cut into bite sized pieces

  • Mushrooms, roasted red peppers and green onions

  • Peaches and pairs

  • Apples and dried cranberries

  • Grapes, apple and celery

Experiment with grilling your produce before adding it to the salad. Grill eggplant or pineapple to get some caramelized flavor into your salad.

Add protein to make it a meal.

Adding a healthy dose of protein can make the salad a meal. Whether you cook up some salmon or chop up last night’s leftover roast chicken, adding protein will help you fill up without being hungry an hour later.

Protein options include:

  • Poultry

  • Tuna, salmon or other white fish

  • Grilled sliced beef

  • Tofu

  • Quinoa

  • Beans

  • Hard-boiled eggs

  • Cooked, crumbled bacon

  • Cheese – cottage, grated cheddar, crumbled feta, a slice of goat or blue cheese

Added proteins should blend with the rest of the flavors you are adding, so be cautious about adding spiced or strongly flavored proteins.

Kick up the flavor & crunch.

Add any of the following to add flavor and crunch to your salad.

  • Raw nuts – pistachios, pecans, walnuts, almonds, pine

  • Candied nuts

  • Seeds – pumpkin, sunflower

  • Dried fruit – cranberries, cherries, mango, pineapple, apple

  • Crispy chickpeas or edamame

  • Broken-up tortilla chips

  • Cooked couscous or quinoa

Dress it up.

To make a simple vinaigrette mix 2:1 oil to acid (lemon juice, vinegar) and spice to taste with anything from simple salt and pepper to fresh or dried herbs of your choice.

Township27 has 10 salad dressings that are gluten-free, preservative and filler-free, and packed with flavour.

  • Summer Love – an apple cider vinaigrette made with a touch of honey, salt and herbs.

  • Caesar the Day – a creamy tangy dressing that will go with anything!

  • The Viking Chef White Balsamic – a blend of olive and canola oil, white balsamic Italian vinegar, Greek yogurt, mustard, honey, garlic, and oregano

  • Savour – a white wine vinaigrette with garlic, onion, and herbs.

  • Back at the Ranch – a creamy ranch dressing made with yogurt, buttermilk, parsley, garlic, lemon juice, Dijon, onion powder and dill. A great dressing, this also makes a great dip when thickened with yogurt or mayo.

  • Orient Expression – a rice wine vinaigrette with sesame oil, ginger, and natural honey.

  • Heather’s Own Champagne Vinaigrette – made with an olive oil and canola oil blend, champagne and white wine vinegar, sugar, honey granules, dry mustard, garlic and onion powder and a touch of tamarind.

  • Modena Magic – a balsamic vinaigrette made with balsamic vinegar right from Modena, Italy.

  • Cherie Sherry - a sherry vinaigrette with extra virgin olive oil, canola oil, lemon juice, onion and garlic powder and spices

  • Elevate - a red wine vinaigrette with herbs and honey.

Mix and match anything you like and create your next family favourite salad.

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